Experience From -
Celia Leber , Shawn McDonald , Chip Marz , Dana Roueche , Richard Schick ,
Hi Shawn! I have a question for you in response to your comment about changing shoes. I have run one 50 miler, many marathons, and am getting ready for my second 50 miler. In the first 50 miler, I had blisters on my 2nd toes after about 30 miles, and although I had a pair of spare shoes at an aid station I didn't change into them because I thought they wouldn't do any good unless the shoes I was wearing were soaked.. Is there some other reason for changing shoes? Why would the "fresh" pair be any easier on swollen or blistered feet? Do you have a slightly larger pair to change into? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Hi Celia, A change of shoes can be nice on the feet if you get them wet in a stream crossing. Your feet will dry out to some extent if you do not change shoes or socks. Other reasons you might change shoes are that the different shoe will rub your feet a little differently, thus possibly relieving pressure on any blistered areas you have. Also the shoes will "feel" a little different on the trail or road than the previous pair. In some races the first part might be on roads and later on trails, so you wear a "road" shoe and then change into a "trail" shoe before the trail section. In longer races (like 100 milers) or in hot weather, your feet are more likely to swell. Then in those cases you change into a pair of shoes that are 1/2 size larger. Multi-day runners will bring a few pairs of shoes and progress to the larger ones later in the event.
If you do decide to change shoes, you can either leave them with your crew or use a drop bag if they race will allow them. Include a towel and clean socks with the shoes in the bag as well as some vaseline, tape, and band aids or moleskin, and put it all in plastic or a waterproof type of container. Also, practice changing shoes on your training runs or just at home. You should be able to do the shoe change in about 3-4 minutes, which includes time to inspect your feet, dry them off, put on the new socks, and put on and tie the new shoes, and stow away the old socks/shoes in the drop bag. It may take a few minutes longer if you have to pop blisters, apply mole skin, and reapply vaseline or some type of anti-perspirant. If you are prone to blisters or swelling, the few minutes spent on a shoe change or two will be more than gained back later in the race when you can still run on blister-free and happy feet. Personally, I may do one shoe change in a 50 miler (at about 25-30 miles), and for 100 milers I like 2-3 changes so maybe at miles 30, 55, and 75. One of my key troubles in races is blisters, so I also put tape on blister-prone areas before the race, and also put on some vaseline. I figure it is better to prevent the problem than to have to deal with it out on the course.
Prevention seems to work about 50% of the time for me, and I make sure I am aware of any hot spots and fix them up at the next aid station I get to. Of course, you can carry a "blister" kit in your running pack and then just stop to put some moleskin or vaseline on hot spots as you feel them starting.
Is there some other (wet shoes) reason for changing shoes? Why would the "fresh" pair be any easier on swollen or blistered feet? Do you have a slightly larger pair to change into? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
I was once told by a shoe dealer...so his advice is suspect...that most shoes have lost their shock absorption ability by 25 miles, and that they take about 48 hrs to recover. Thus his advice to have at least two pairs of shoes and rotate if you run every day.
If his info re lost shock absorption after 25 miles is correct, then it would make sense to change shoes every 25 miles in races longer than that. I have done so, when/where logistics make this possible. I "think" I notice a difference. However, I don't think this has anything to do with blisters, but with shock absorption.
Other experienced runners, Rich Schick for one, doesn't change unless he gets a hot spot. So I think that shoe changes, like so many other aspects of our sport, is more a personal issue. Try changing and see if it helps you or not.
Chip mentions loss of shock absorption as a reason for changing shoes in an ultra. Another reason is that different shoes have different support characteristics. Some shoes are very supportive in some areas while somewhat weak in other areas. As the miles wear on, your feet can become very tired where the shoes aren't as supportive. By changing shoes, you can give the stressed areas of your feet a break by shifting the support areas with a different model shoe. Also, the dynamics can be different from one shoe to the next in terms of heel lift, forefoot flexibility etc. This can help by slightly changing your stride bringing potential relief not only to your feet, but to your knees, ankles, hips and even lower back. I have yet to find the perfect shoe, I really don't think it exists. But, by changing from one good shoe to another during the run can have the effect of feeling like you have a new pair of feet and/or legs, well almost new.
On the other hand, I had a pair of shoes that where working great for 43 miles at Hardrock one year, Rockport Leadville racers. I changed just because I planned on it to into Nike Pegasus then Nike Humara and regret doing it. Never did my feet feel as good as they did in the Rockports. From that I learned to have shoes ready for a change but if the shoes you have on are working fine, leave them alone. Don't change them until they are no longer working well and you have nothing to loose. In other words, if it aint broke, don't fix it.
Actually I take it one step further, even if I blister or get a hot spot I usually just stick with the shoe I have on. Even in multi-day events I found that changing shoes would result in a new problem somewhere else on the foot. If I just gutted it out blisters just get so sore, then they seem to get better. If I kept adding new one to my collections it actually made things worse. It is a good thing to check and make sure it isn't a wrinkled sock or a piece of debris rather than the shoe itself that is the culprit. Other experienced runners, Rich Schick for one, doesn't change unless he gets a hot spot. So I think that shoe changes, like so many other aspects of our sport, is more a personal issue. Try changing and see if it helps you or not.